A Congregation On The Move

Christina Rossetti’s 1872 hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” has always been one of my favorites. While normally sung as a Christmas carol because of its focus on Jesus’ birth, I regularly find it a source of encouragement during February in Minnesota, when winter’s hold can seem rather permanent. In her poem, later set to the now-familiar tune of Gustav Holst, Rossetti points to God’s nearly inconceivable and humble birth at Bethlehem as a sign of God’s enduring love and commitment. While this focus on “God with us” – the literal meaning of “Emmanuel” – is central to Christmas, it is articulated even more poignantly as we enter the season of Lent, when we follow Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and his suffering on the cross, all endured to demonstrate God’s profound love for us. 

The desire to celebrate and share God’s profound love has motivated this congregation for its nearly 100-year history, and it is also what moves us forward into a future we believe God has prepared. It comes to expression in our affiliate ministries that offer such superb care for our elders, our children, and those with disabilities. It is so tangibly visible in the relationships formed and faith-lives strengthened at COP. It motivates the worship, fellowship, and education experienced at our two campuses and Conference & Retreat Center.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that during the coming month we will continue to celebrate, share, and be shaped by God’s incredible love. But precisely because it’s not surprising – what else would you expect from your church?! – it may be easy to miss some of the distinctive and important elements of our shared congregational life. So I wanted to highlight some of the features of our worship this month and invite your participation.

Sunday, February 4 – 5th Sunday after the Epiphany (and Super Bowl Sunday). Sports fans from around the world will gather in Minnesota this weekend, and we will invite them to beautiful and inspiring worship at Mount Olivet! We also will highlight the good work and invite a special offering for one of our ministry partners, Cornerstone, a group that provides relief, shelter, and advocacy for victims of domestic violence and works to end sex trafficking, an issue that has received particular attention in light of the Super Bowl.

Sunday, February 11 – Sunday of the Transfiguration, with music by Robert Robinson. Transfiguration marks the transition from Epiphany to Lent and we are delighted to welcome back gospel-singer Robert Robinson for one of our favorite musical Sundays of the year.

Wednesday, February 14 – Ash Wednesday (and Valentine’s Day). With services at 7, 11am, 4, 5, 6, and 7:30pm (MPLS) and 6 and 7:30pm (WEST), we will move into Lent confident of God’s extraordinary love for us. Communion will be served at all services; the imposition of ashes is available at the 5pm service (MPLS), and our Confirmation students will lead the 7:30 services at both campuses.

Sunday, February 18 – 1st Sunday of Lent. “Be Not Afraid” is our Lenten theme this year, and we will use some of the many stories of the Bible that contain this command – God’s favorite and most frequent! – to remind ourselves of the courage God grants to help us believe God’s promises, belong to the community of faith, and become the people God needs us to be in the world. (Take a look: Our Lent logo artwork background contains a listing of “Be Not Afraid” scriptures.)

Wednesdays, February 21-28 – Introducing “Truth Talks” on the Wednesday evenings of Lent. Anchored by God’s promise to be with us in and through all things, we are following God’s favorite command to “be not afraid” by tackling subjects that are difficult to talk about and yet too important to ignore. This year’s focus is on suicide, something that has touched many lives in our congregation and community. (More information here)

Sunday, February 25 – 2nd Sunday of Lent and the Annual Congregation Meeting. In addition to reviewing the year past, looking ahead to the one to come, and approving the budget, we also will receive and vote on the recommendation of the call committee to call Anna Helgen as an associate pastor to Mount Olivet. Information about pastoral candidate Anna Helgen can be found here.

So much is happening at this congregation on the move! Come and join us for some or all of these worship services and events.  And, while you’re at it, invite a friend to share the love of Christ that warms us even in the bleak mid-winter and enlivens us all year long!

Pastor Lose 
David J. Lose, Senior Pastor